Distinguished Student Leader Program

The National Student Council (NatStuCo) Distinguished Student Leader Program is a rigorous and challenging skill- and knowledge-based recognition program created to identify outstanding individual student council leaders in high schools. Students who earn the NatStuCo Distinguished Student Leader designation have demonstrated exemplary leadership abilities.

In seeking recognition, students will complete a variety of tasks focused on building leadership knowledge and improving skills.

Students will also keep a record of activities and show they’ve met the award criteria by creating a personal leadership portfolio. This portfolio will also serve as a valuable record of their achievements and commitment as a leader—something they may refer to often when they’re applying for college and scholarships.

Time Frame

The activities involved while seeking the designation will vary somewhat by each individual. There is no specific timeline for completing the portfolio, and some applicants may work to complete theirs in a single semester while others use a full school year or longer.

Once an application is submitted, it takes the national office approximately three weeks to review and render its decision. Those interested in citing their Distinguished Student Leader designation on college and scholarship applications will want to take that time frame into consideration. Students may submit their applications at any time during the year prior to their high school graduation.

Explore the application process

Apply now


What’s New?

  • The 2021 Distinguished Student Leader application identifies if the student council has active NatStuCo membership and will alert the user of inactive or nonmember status. Only students in NatStuCo-member schools are eligible to apply.*
  • Students applying must have an adviser-verified student account.**
  • Portfolio hard copies are no longer submitted to National Student Council.
  • The Leadership Philosophy Essay is submitted as a part of the online application.
  • Completing the online form is the final step in applying.

*Student leaders who are members of other organizations in schools with active National Student Council membership are eligible to apply.

**National Honor Society members who already have adviser-verified accounts do not need to create new ones.